Somerville Trying To Weed Out Invasive Black Swallow-Wort Plant

Photo: James Rojas (WBZ)

SOMERVILLE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The City of Somerville is teaming up with the Somerville Garden Club and other groups to spread awareness about the black swallow-wort.

The black swallow-wort is an invasive plant with small, purplish flowers, long, green pods, and windborne seeds.

The weed displaces native plants, reduces nesting and foraging sites for birds, and threatens the monarch butterfly population.

"Butterflies will often mistake the swallow-wort for the milkweed, which is what they’re supposed to lay their eggs on," Somerville Garden Club president Cynthia Stillinger told WBZ NewsRadio Wednesday. "If they lay their eggs on the swallow-wort, and when the eggs hatch, the larva cannot eat this. In fact, it kills them."

Stillinger and other garden club members are leaving door hangers on Somerville residences with information about what black swallow-wort is, why it is a problem, and how to get rid of it from your yard.

According to Mass Audobon, residents can remove black swallow-wort seedlings and young plants with hand pulling, and remove small numbers of mature plants with digging. Frequent mowing can also suppress populations in fields, but because the plant's seeds persist in the soil, follow-up control of seedlings will likely take several years.

WBZ's James Rojas (@JamesRojasNews) reports.

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